A capacity expansion by one polypropylene producer and restoration of capacity at an off-line plant by another could ease tight supplies this year. Solvay Polymers Inc., a division of Houston-based Solvay Group, announced it will build a gas-phase PP line at its Deer Park, Texas, plant.
To be complete by the third quarter of 1996, the line, the third at the Deer Park plant, will boost capacity there from 440 million pounds per year to about 670 million pounds per year.
Quart Graves, PP sales manager, said another 100 million pounds per year will be gained by streamlining the existing two lines, which do not use the gas-phase process.
``Coupled with our PP production in Europe, this will make us a significant player in the global market,'' he said. ``Polypropylene has grown in the last year, and we expect that to continue.''
Graves said the company sees PP's future as bright because of what he called ``the two V's.''
``They are value and versatility,'' he said. ``When you consider how many things PP can be used for and compare it to the cost and uses of other materials, it has both versatility and value.''
Overall, Solvay Group has capacity for 1.03 billion pounds per year worldwide, and the expansion will swell that capacity to about 1.33 billion pounds.
On Jan. 5, Novacor Chemicals Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, announced that it had restarted its Marysville, Mich., PP plant, which had been out of service since Dec. 3. System and operating errors had combined to collapse the plant's filtration and storage vessel.
According to Brian Turner, vice president and general manager of Novacor's PP business, the plant resumed production at the right time.
``We expect the polypropylene market to keep growing at the rate it has for the last year, and we expect the supply to continue to be tight until at least 1996,'' he said.
In 1994, according to Plastics News figures, demand for PP grew 9 percent, while production grew only 7 percent. Some industry experts expect PP production barely to keep pace with demand for the next two years.